Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries from March 31st, 2011

Let’s Talk About Jesse

March 31st, 2011 · 1 Comment

Flying home today on a supreme reporting high, one that will surely wear off as soon as I realize I now have to write the damn piece. Back tomorrow, after a night catching up with Microkhan Jr., the Grand Empress, and five dozen pressing emails. ‘Til then, enjoy some political music from the ’84 election—certainly […]

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Lone Star

March 29th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Heading off to West Texas for a Wired reporting trip today, so light posting for the next lil’ while. Until I manage to secure myself some dependable WiFi in the lightly populated triangle between Lubbock, Abilene, and Wichita Falls, please make do with highlights of the late-period Fly Girls. Sad to think such joyously athletic […]

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“One of the Greatest Evils of the Age”

March 28th, 2011 · No Comments

I’m a huge believer in the notion that the good ol’ days were not quite as halcyon as they’re cracked up to be. That anti-nostalgia truism becomes especially clear when one examines crime data from bygone eras; Americans, it turns out, have been treating one another quite unkindly for generations. I made that point in […]

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The Art of Catching Lampreys

March 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

Following up on an earlier post about the decline of England’s enthusiasm for eels, I spent (wasted?) a fair bit of time this morning digging into America’s long-standing hatred for lampreys. These parasitic fish, widely held responsible for the death of King Henry I, were once on the verge of conquering the Great Lakes; they […]

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Messing with the Bull

March 24th, 2011 · No Comments

I have mixed feelings about Ross Dunkley, the Australian who co-founded the Myanmar Times in 2000. It’s impossible not to admire his moxie; rare is the publishing soul brave enough to open a new information venture in a totalitarian state. But Dunkley obviously had to make some bargains to earn that opportunity, and that meant […]

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Are You Reeling in the Years?

March 23rd, 2011 · 5 Comments

Those commendable souls who frequent this space may have noticed Microkhan’s recent obsession with Papua New Guinea. This is by accident more than design, I assure you; the endlessly fascinating linchpin of Oceania simply has a lot going on these days, to the point that it has become a topic of much conversation in America’s […]

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Scrolls and Combinations

March 22nd, 2011 · 1 Comment

Apologies, but squeezed for time today—have to bolt early to record a segment for Here & Now, as well as arrange a trip out to East Texas for next week. A classic above to tide you over, as you surely count the minutes ’til tomorrow’s post about the new Great Game and the madness it’s […]

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A Pocketful of Eels

March 21st, 2011 · 8 Comments

Modern slang is full of gastronomical synonyms for money: dough, bread, cabbage, cake. Notably absent from the long list, however, is a foodstuff that once actually functioned as a form of currency: the humble eel, a traditional English delicacy often served in jellied form. Nine centuries ago or thereabouts, eels were more than just a […]

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Made in America

March 18th, 2011 · 9 Comments

I somehow went almost an entire month without pimping my latest Wired feature, which appears in the March issue (alongside Joel Johnson‘s excellent cover story on the Foxconn suicides). The piece is a deeply reported essay that tackles a tricky business proposition: For companies that make products out of atoms, does manufacturing in China and […]

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Hocus Pocus, Cont’d

March 17th, 2011 · 4 Comments

I’ve previously written about the continued existence of anti-sorcery laws in the Vanuatuan penal code, so I felt compelled to post about the current debate in Papua New Guinea over similar statutes. The PNG government has grown increasingly alarmed over a rash of murders linked to beliefs in witchcraft: In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the […]

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Hydrofoil Engaged

March 16th, 2011 · No Comments

If I don’t get some serious writing done on my behind-schedule Wired feature today, I fear that all will be lost. Wish me luck, and brace for tomorrow’s post about gambling in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

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The Exclusion Zone

March 15th, 2011 · 8 Comments

Having grown up in fear of nuclear catastrophe, the post-earthquake turmoil at the Fukushima reactors has really knocked me for a loop. From the moment the plants’ administrators started issuing mealy-mouthed explanations about the situation, I knew that disaster was imminent. The big question now is not only how much radiation will blow toward Japan’s […]

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The Ultimate Tribute

March 14th, 2011 · 6 Comments

I just split my morning between two fruitless tasks: the first an investigation of pending nuclear projects in the developing world, the second an attempt to understand naming conventions in the world of cattle breeding. My curiosity about the latter issue was piqued by news of a bull auction in North Platte, Nebraska, where bovines […]

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Degrees of Fragility

March 11th, 2011 · No Comments

I was all set to end the week with a post about a particularly egregious patent-medicine fraud, but it somehow seems wrong in light of the catastrophe in Japan. We often forget how much our species is at the mercy of the planet, and how quickly everything we treasure can be snatched away. For the […]

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Lost in Translation

March 10th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Though English may be gaining an ever-greater toehold in the rest of the world, the United States appears to becoming increasingly polyglot. At the same time, first-generation immigrants are making landfall in far-flung locations throughout the U.S., rather than concentrating in a handful of urban centers. Those two trends spell trouble for courts with slim […]

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The Garry Trudeau of Papua New Guinea

March 9th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Sad news out of Port Moresby, as cartoonist Bob Browne has passed on well before his time: He was the creator of Mr Grass Roots, perhaps Papua New Guinea’s most loved comic character, which the magazine Islands Business once called “the social conscience of PNG”… Roots became the Papua New Guinean Everyman, the knock-about character […]

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The Curtain Drops

March 8th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Though I frequent Broadway shows about as often as I indulge in White Castle—that is, once in a blue moon—I’ll admit to taking undue pleasures in the travails of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Not in the various serious injuries that the production has incurred, mind you, but rather in seeing what happens when unchecked […]

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Architectural Antipsychotics

March 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments

I’d wager that there isn’t a single state in the nation that lacks an architectural oddity dubbed something like “The Strangest House in the World.” You know what I’m talking about—that random tourist attraction that lies somewhere between two medium-sized towns, and is a testament to mankind’s ability to develop total (and somewhat frightening) tunnel […]

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The Devil Collects

March 4th, 2011 · No Comments

Whenever I find myself running behind on a major project, my thoughts turn to a certain passage from Easy Riders, Raging Bulls that discusses Michael Cimino’s utter disdain for logistical constraints. When infamous director started shooting Heaven’s Gate in the spring of 1979, he did so with orders to stay within a $10 million budget […]

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Quicksilver’s Last Stand

March 3rd, 2011 · 5 Comments

News of the mercury thermometer’s imminent demise got me wondering about where, exactly, our quicksilver comes from these days. Much to my surprise, I discovered that there is but a single mine in the world dedicated solely to the production of mercury. It is in Khaidarkan, a village in southwestern Kyrgyzstan, where the poor soil […]

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Behold the Pyramids

March 2nd, 2011 · 5 Comments

Something went terribly awry this morning when Microkhan Jr. dismounted from a shoulder ride; my glasses snapped in half as his size eights kicked against my nose, and I now find myself staring through crooked, taped-together frames that make me feel as if I’m wandering through a funhouse. I have a late-morning appointment to get […]

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Charlie Don’t Surrender

March 1st, 2011 · 9 Comments

Over the past day or so, I’ve once again been flooded with mail regarding my Alcoholics Anonymous opus from last July’s Wired. The reason, of course, is Charlie Sheen’s recent decision to come out hard against the organization, which he accuses of being (and I paraphrase) a fraudulent mind-control cult with an abysmal success rate. […]

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Death and Honesty

March 1st, 2011 · 2 Comments

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the admissibility of deathbed hearsay has attracted a fair bit of attention, primarily because the two dissenters were an unlikely pair: Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both justices objected to the fact that police officers were permitted to testify about a murder victim’s last words, since doing […]

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